There were many places Coleen could go. Any of them would do. If she was not a dead man, she was still Coleen. There was nothing she could do about a trespasser unless they were nervous and inexperienced (or maybe experienced) enough to let her talk. But her voice wasn’t something to use anymore. Or her body. Or anything.
“Is that why you stopped by earlier than normal?” Reem’s question sounded more like a comment.
“Were you surprised?” Lulu waggled her eyebrows at Azzah.
Azzah rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop herself from grinning. “It’s still too close. You should stop by long before you’re supposed to take over our post. Then we might truly have to keep an eye out.”
“We’re doing that the entire time. It won’t make too much of a difference.” Reem rested an arm on Azzah’s shoulder, leaning into her. “Don’t lose any sleep trying to surprise us. We are unsurprisable.”
“You can say that all you want, but we’ll beat you. One day.”
Azzah shook her head. No offense to Daudi’s words, or Lulu’s effort, but she doubted it. They were too far behind. No one could beat both Azzah and Reem. “Keep trying. We appreciate the attempt.”
“The practice,” Reem corrected. “You both have a good night. We’ll see you on the morrow.”
Normal parents hung up school awards or sports trophies. At least, that was what he had heard. His parents had decided to hang up the relics of every monster that he had murdered on the walls.
He hid his face in his hands. “Mom, can you… take those down? At least for tomorrow. My friends are going to be here and I don’t-”
She fixed him with a look that told him to look at her while she spoke, but his face was still hidden in his hands so he didn’t see it. So she had to interrupt him with words instead. “And hide how proud we are of you? How could you suggest a thing?”
He sighed. “I don’t really want to get into…” No, he couldn’t finish that sentence. He couldn’t tell his mother, a monster hunter, that his friends didn’t know that he killed monsters. That that is what his parents did too. “Oh, okay.”
Nope, he had to get his friends to want to go somewhere else instead. That was his only option to get out of this embarrassment-free. Or something.
He couldn’t help but feel proud, watching his little girl cut the man’s purse from his belt. She nearly bounced her way through the crowd, no one any the wiser. She could barely keep her smile from her face as she stopped in front of him.
He placed his hand on her head, patting it while trying his hardest not to muss up her hair. “Good job, girlie.”
He shook his head. “We’ll look through it later, keep it in your pocket right now. We’ll see what you’ve earned yourself later.”
Sliding his hand to her shoulder, they walked side by side away from their mark and toward home, where he would be able to see the spoils she would keep.